Monday, August 16, 2004

JS Online : America seems to be at war with itself

By ELIZABETH SCANLON THOMAS
Posted: Aug. 14, 2004

The first clue I had that today's America is different from the America I grew up in came shortly after my son and I flew in from England to attend a funeral.

I was trying to drive my normal-sized rental car carefully because I hadn't taken out collision insurance, and I was surrounded by enormous vehicles larger than run-of-the-mill SUVs.

My little car was overwhelmed by these monsters. I had trouble pulling out of places as they blocked my vision the way skyscrapers steal sunshine from city dwellers.

Pulling into a parking space at the funeral home, I was amazed to find myself next to a Hummer. Who needs to drive a Hummer in a town? As I passed two other Hummers and hundreds of SUVs later (does anyone drive regular cars in America anymore?), I realized that all the big military-type vehicles on the road make it look as if America is at war. But at war with whom?

It's not hard to find Americans bickering with each other these days, even in public places where embarrassment would have kept them silent before. I stopped in a restroom after seeing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and heard two friends arguing with each other.

"It was a great movie," one said. "You should see it."

"I'm not spending my money to watch trash like that," replied her friend, her voice rising with each word.

Then they spat out criticisms of conservatives and liberals back and forth, oblivious to the rest of us listening.

My mentioning that I'd just come back from watching "Fahrenheit 9/11" was enough to put a friend in attack mode. "All lies," she fumed, although she refused to see the movie.

Am I mistaken, or were we once able to speak with one another even when disagreeing? What has caused Americans to be at each other's throats?

(click on the title for the whole article)

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